Retiring a Cruise Ship for Retirees


Fiji is simply too far away. There is no market for it.


The Marriott Hotel, Fiji attract 90% USA tourists, while overall Fiji
attracts only 10% of Visitors from USA so you are correct on the number of
likely USA visitors, they also have the choice of Hawaii living.
The target market is Australia and NZ at 70%, Fiji itself, some Chinese and
Japanese with the remainder from Europe and other English speaking


“You’ve got it all figured out”

Not really which is why I posted so professionals like you, working in the businesses, will blow holes in the ideas. The big risk is using gravity moorings which are liable to drag in Cyclonic conditions. So it may require some of the moorings be drilled and grouted into the reef. Am using a Fijian Marine Engineer to design the moorings, 8 in a circle so the ship can turn into the wind.


Just to mention I am working voluntarily to help out a Fijian clan who have some land in Viti Levu and needed help for their development. Saved them from a couple of loan sharks and Hotel developers wanting to rip them off. They mentioned digging a marina but, as there is already a pretty sheltered natural harbour, I saw the opportunity of using that instead and rather than building a hotel look to charter a Cruise Ship. The idea of filling it with retirees came later.


there aren’t any…move along now


Indeed. While ships are designed to be self-sufficient between ports and thus have certain advantages over land-based buildings in remote and/or undeveloped locations, you can’t dump sewage, garbage and sludge overboard or your “pristine waters” start resembling a southeast Asian slum…


A couple of things that initially pop into my mind.

How do you evacuate the ship? I’ve recently been spending a lot of time with a friend in a care facility. There are emergency exits everywhere, but with many of the patients it will still require two or three people just to get them out of bed. Your plan seems to include a hospice type of service. So what’s your plan? Leave 'em? Have enough staff on hand all the time to effectively evacuate them?

How much do you have set aside to refurbish the ship? Sure, a $20 million cruise ship might seem like a steal. You won’t have to abide by ADA compliance being outside of the US, but there’s a lot that you’ll have to consider in that regard. Will two wheelchairs be able to pass in a passageway? How about mobile beds? Will every single door on the ship need to be replaced with a wider one? Will every single light switch need to be lowered? Sinks, countertops, toilets, showers, etc. We’re not talking about a minor facelift, we’re talking about needing to gut and rebuild. Carnival’s refurbishment of the Destiny was over $150 million. Cheap compared to a newbuild, not cheap compared to a hotel.

You keep mentioning that it will be anchored in a deep harbor protected behind a reef. How tall above the water does the reef lie? Tall enough to completely block the wind that usually accompanies foul weather? Take a search around YouTube at cruise ships parting their mooring lines. What are your plans for this? What tugs are available to keep you off the rocks?

What are your plans for the engine room? Gut it? Lay it up? You want to be able to sail to get out of the way of weather? We’re not talking about a bicycle where you can just store it in the garage til you need to use it. Getting a ship that’s been sitting underway takes a crap ton of work and money, either on the front end of maintaining it or on the back end of throwing gobs of cash trying to fix stuff that’s been lying fallow.

Can you do it? Sure. Go for it. It’s not my money (and sounds like it might not be your money either). Is it a good idea? On paper it looks pretty good. There are so many hidden variables that the ones I mentioned above barely scratch the surface. I would not be willing to invest my money in your project, but surely there are those out there that will.


He’s got it all figured out man, don’t you worry about those details.


A large ship just sitting there costs millions per year in upkeep, regulatory and other issues. Add payroll. Now these occupants you propose to add are in a special risk group.

My “other” job is EMS. I enter nursing homes and senior living centers all the time when not sailing. Are you prepared to move the ailing elderly to and from a hospital or skilled nursing facility as needed, quickly? One fall from a standing position in a frail elder can be life-threatening due to internal bleeding.

Nice idea but I don’t think you can control costs as much as you think you can, given the logistical complexities involved.


No worries. The bodies can be quietly lowered from a sally port at night. If they’re weighed down properly, they’ll stay on the bottom for quite a while.
Before long, the ship will be sitting in a malodorous pool of toxic effluent. The area surrounding the disabled hulk will be declared an international disaster zone by the UN, forcing the island’s chief of state to declare an emergency and order the immediate evacuation of those left aboard the death ship who haven’t already deserted, along with the evacuation of the island’s residents within 48 hours.
Instead of complying, a mob of Fijians will seize him and the local politicians who sucked him into this huge con job. After prodding them down to the hulk, they will hang them all by the neck using the ship’s rusting cranes before setting it on fire.
The volatile toxic chemicals in the formally pristine bay will spontaneously ignite creating a spectacular light show.
The Weather Channel’s Jim Cantori will report in ankle deep water from the beach on the potential effects of such a large source of intense heat on global warming.
The writer of the OP will be on the French Riviera, sitting aboard his new megayacht which was financed by his scheme on the people of Fiji. He’ll be sipping chilled champagne as he watches the carnage on CNN, surrounded by a bevy of hot babes in bikinis.


Your comments, are all welcomed especially those highlighting real issues, all of which I will try to address.
Firstly - no one is benefiting financially from you comments and no on is asking for contributions, I am working voluntarily for a small charity foundation, am already old, but fortunately not yet frail, and can still type.
The clan, who own the land, asked me to help with a development including building a hotel, I have already built two over my 50 years in the real world, but being disgusted by the build costs, prices charged by private hospitals, retirement homes, hotel accommodation and permanent cruise cabins suggested a Floatel.
Choosing a vessel - Cruise companies have changed their operations recently building larger ships and retiring others, for example the MV Zenith, for sale at $64m would be a good choice for this location.
Costs - Highest capital cost for new vessels are billions, scrap value is around 5 m, refurbishment cost depends on condition. Purchase, funded by a mortgage, charter, or JV with a Shipping Company are options.
Operating Cost are high with fuel being highest, followed by staff wages and thirdly profit margins with average cruise rates at $250 per day the maximum potential earnings could be $91m . All 3 are reduced with this proposal but cost will still lie around $50m pa. Refurbishment will be $1m pa depending on the vessel.
Prime Function - The venture is a Floatel not a floating hospital, but catering for over 50’s requires a higher level of health care, especially for those not wishing to, or unable to afford moving into a retirement home.
Heath care - Fiji’s has a well developed infrastructure but its free health care system is already stretched, thus providing and extending on board facilities is required. The proposal is for a medical staff of 40 running what will be a cottage hospita, together with healthy diet and exercise regimes. Inpatient and a hospice care of the “Frail,” should they wish to stay in Fiji’ will be on shore and is part of the development plan as is “end of life care.” Signing an DNR declaration, as suggested, may be a choice but is not a requirement Government are also considering a training hospital on the site although this will be someway down the track.
Waste Management - Ships are self contained and Government advisers suggested liquid waste could be disposed of at sea, however as liquid waste alone will be 300 tonnes I did not think this an option. A land fill, bio-digester and an incineration plant, are all available ashore, and will be used.
Evacuation - The vessel is adjacent land and will have a direct linked 50m x 7m floating jetty. In addition all vessels require evacuation plans and most have disabled facilities and are wheelchair accessible.
Moorings - Eight moorings are to be designed to take cyclonic wind loads. In the event of mooring failure the vessel has plenty of room to turn into the wind (which was measured at 190 mph during Cyclone Winston with a 3 metre storm surge causing extensive on land flooding).
The engine room will be kept operational and as a cyclone gives plenty of warning of its approach the Captain will have time to consider evacuation, relocation or weathering the storm.
Location - the adjacent reef lies at 0.6m depth with its inner edge 450m offshore, The outer edge is 1500 m with a 400m channel sloping from 18m at the moorings to 360m deep.


Are you talking Fiji Dollars here??


Speaking of Floatel/Accommodation Barges; There are a few available in the market:
Maybe not up to hotel standard, but a possible candidate for refurbishment to whatever standard you require.

There are also some that is of hotel standard, like this one:
Not sure if this one is for sale though.

With sufficient moorings in protected water, any one of these could survive a cyclone.
Or placed on a gravel pad and ballasted down to obtain sufficient bottom contact to stay firmly in place. (Tidal range dependent)
They could also be made accessible from shore with fairly simple means,


Why take on the expense of mooring a ship and maintaining all of its propulsion machinery in ready condition if there are no plans for it to sail again.
Rotating it inside a ring of moored buoys to keep it head to wind in a raging cyclone might look good on paper to landlubbers but the execution would be difficult and fraught with danger.
The idea of taking it out to sea to avoid a cyclone might likewise look good in theory but would very possibly place the ship and passengers in more danger.
Since it is not likely to ever move again, why not ground it. It would eliminate a huge chunk of maintenance costs and as a low profile stationary structure, be in a better position to withstand a cyclone.


a hotel undoubtedly cheaper !! what side of the island is it on?


If you’re disgusted by the costs of building a hotel then you should probably budget for an AED to have handy when you start to prepare for your first shipyard experience.

Your $1m refurbishment budget is laughable. That won’t even get you new carpet for a ship of the size you’re talking about, let alone the medical equipment you’d mentioned previously, unless your $2.5m MRI machine is out of a different budget. I’ve seen the budget game played before, but ultimately the pie is the same size no matter how you divide it up.

So wait… you’re going to build buildings anyways? How much more cost effective would it be to just build bigger buildings?

You’re partially correct. They have plans for getting people to the muster station, from there they will likely be going into the boats and over the side. Trying to evacuate a cruise ship down a gangway or two? Good luck. Also, a lot of the “wheelchair accessible” designs rely on elevators. There are already precedents of total power loss on cruise ships.

I’m not a mate but this sounds extremely optimistic.

You had previously mentioned successful precedents. The two that pop into mind right off the bat are the QM in Long beach. Sure, it’s still open as a hotel (part of it anyways) but if you look at how many times it’s changed ownership then one has to wonder about whether or not it’s truly been successful. Last I saw was that they were trying to raise the funds for needed repairs to keep her from sinking at the dock. They’ve only got $120 million to go.

The only really successful one that I’ve heard of is the one in Gibraltar, but that’s not really a fair benchmark as there is literally no land left for development there.

The numbers you throw out for cruise ship room prices do not appear to take into account that the cruise ships do not break even based solely off the room price. They make money off of alcohol, gambling, and arranging trips ashore, roughly in that order.

You have not persuaded me that yours is a good plan.


This seems to be for people wishing to see their ailing parents far away, out of sight. Usually, the same people will ask for high rewards if something went wrong. I would at first check if there is an insurance willing to cover…

Cruise ships at anchor or berth are extreme electricity crunchers. It is doubtful whether the local grid on an isolated island can provide the needed power and, important, can guarantee it without interruption.

A cruise ship without power is just unlivable. In 2010, off Baja California, the Carnival Splendor lost all power after an engine room fire. She was towed to San Diego, arriving three days after the incident.
The 3300 passengers and 1200 crew were all on deck. The carrier USS Ronald Reagan provided meals, water, medical and other help.

The hospital ships USNS ‘Mercy’ and ‘Comfort’ are beyond the scope of this project, but in the same direction, with some 1000 beds. They are both former oil tankers!
It could well be more economical to equip an existing hull than to transform a cruise ship.


Thanks for advice on using an existing hull and insurance. Any claims will be subject to local laws, but there is no defense for negligence. The ship and management will be covered by an all risk policy which is the normal practice for local land based businesses in Fiji.

Power hunger is a definite problem but by keeping the aux generators operational there will be a back up for the shore feed, which is generally pretty good but could be lost for several days following severe storms. I can imagine it would be hell without it.


Not sure if I am trying to persuade you, it is more a case of listening to the replies I am receiving, and deciding whether I take the plan any further. To quote c captain whether there are any viable options he said;-

Maybe he is right!
Thanks for your in depth assessment of my comments all your points are valid. Including maintenance, the $1m I quoted was daily operational maintenance for materials, refits would be Capex sorry about that. Yes a development is planned on the site and the ship was intended for labour accommodation a 3 year charter for up to 1000 workers, staff and families, it grew from there, that is still an option and a number of vessels fit that bill. On sewage the legislation allows for local rules to supersede international law with the Planning Office already saying they would permit treated discharge, I prefer pumping ashore to a treatment plant. The irony is the plant discharges into the river and is less efficient that ship board plants.
Tou mentioned the 5 Star Sunborn in Gibraltar, a beautiful vessel starting at $300 per night, there does not seem to be an upper limit, I wonder how profitable she is.


Hi Jim, thanks for your comment, the site is on the North Coast Bligh Water which is about to be hit by a tropical cyclone Cat 5. I guess 4 metre storm surge and 3 metre swells over the reef. Don’t think I would like a room on the beach this week.